Overview of the Bundy Ranch Story

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.56.25 PMAmericans are already being bombarded with stories from both the Pro-Bundy and Anti-Bundy camps.  PolitiChicks.tv has received several messages from people claiming rancher Cliven Bundy has been “breaking the law” and that his cattle have been illegally grazing on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property.  So let’s look at what we’ve learned so far.

What we know is that federal agents tried to seize 400 head of cattle (he owns approximately 1000) from 68-year old rancher Cliven Bundy because he allegedly owed over $1 million in “20 years worth of grazing fees”.  They also claimed they were storming his property in order to protect an endangered species, the gopher tortoise (which is contradictory because these are the same tortoises of which more than half of the 1400 tortoises on the property were euthanized last August because of budget cuts, but let’s leave that for now).

According to Washington Times, Bundy’s cattle have grazed on that land over 100 years, before BLM was ever founded “and before a federal decision was issued to restrict grazing to protect the desert tortoise”.  Bundy had been told that fees would be “due to local government, not federal agencies.”  Ultimately, Bundy claims he had been paying BLM but they changed the rules and he wasn’t clear who to pay, so he continued raising his cattle as his family had done for over a century.

But when you look at the overall picture, this story doesn’t really seem to be about tortoises or money.  In the grand scheme of things, if Bundy owes $1 million that’s nothing compared to the billions that would be potentially made if Bundy were to sell his ranch to the people who really wanted the property–and that’s where things get messy and very political.

Several reports claimed Sen. Harry Reid’s son Rory (with help of Chinese investors) had been buying up the ranchland around Bundy’s property to ultimately build a $5 billion solar energy plant.

From BizPacReview:

Reid, D-Nev., and his oldest son, Rory, a former chairman of the Clark County, Nev., County Commission, were both deeply involved in a plan by ENN Energy Group to build a huge solar farm in southern Nevada, according to a Reuters report from August 2012.

Land the Bundy family has been using for cattle ranching was getting in the way of that project, according to documents formerly posted on the Bureau of Land Management’s government website but since removed.

It has also been reported that this particular deal is no longer on the table, but was part of the story in 2012.

The acting director of the Bureau of Land Management is Neil Kornze, a former senior policy advisor for Reid.

The most interesting line might be:

“Non-Governmental Organizations have expressed concern that the regional mitigation strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone utilizes Gold Butte as the location for offsite mitigation for impacts from solar development, and that those restoration activities are not durable with the presence of trespass cattle.”

The federal government’s story so far is that the whole showdown was necessary for the protection of gopher tortoises.

From the document purged from the BLM website, it’s clear there were more than tortoises at stake.

There was a $5 billion foreign energy project in the works, with Reid and his son directly involved.

And there was an American citizen and cattle rancher standing in the way.

Now, federal agents armed with guns and the full power of the federal government have engaged.

What could go wrong?

Although the company plans may not have come to fruition (one report says in 2013 the alleged project may have been dumped), perhaps an even more troubling piece of this story involves Harry Reid’s former longtime aide Neil Kornze, who was confirmed Tuesday as head of the Bureau of Land Management.  Kornze worked for Reid from 2003 – 2011 and according to the Washington Times, many people “had qualms about his lack of experience with past BLM directors”.

So any doubters out there who still think this is only about a rancher who broke the law, please think again and do a little more digging.  That’s what we’re trying to do.

Meanwhile the latest news coming out of the Nevada camp is that the BLM “stand down” is a ruse, and the release of the cattle was meant to fool the public into thinking it’s over.   They’re assessing the situation, and they are working on social media sources to confuse the issues, and ultimately make people believe Bundy is the bad guy.  

April 14 Update:  Regarding the Reid connection, Breitbart.com writes,  “Indeed, Rory Reid did in fact have a hand in plans to reclassify federal lands for renewable energy developments. Just northeast of Las Vegas and Nellis Air Force Base, plans were drawn by Reid allies to potentially develop 5,717 acres of land for such use. While it would be fair to claim that such activity was in Bundy’s relative neighborhood, the federal lands once leased by the family were more than 20 miles away, east of Overton, Nevada. Contrasting maps offered by InfoWars and those entered into federal court record prove such a theory to be a stretch.”

And from the Facebook page of Cliven Bundy’s daughter, Shiree Bundy Cox:

I’m writing this because of the controversy surrounding Cliven Bundy not paying his grazing fees for the past 25 years, like you I believe in obeying the law, but this isn’t as black & white as the papers seem to think. Bundys have been running cattle on that land since the 1870’s – long before the BLM was even a twinkle in the federal gov’s eye. In the 1900’s – I think mid 1900’s, (I’m really not sure), the BLM was born. They promised to be the golden child of great management & improvements for ranchers. They said, “you give us your money, we take a little for wages & then give it back in the form of knowledge and range improvements. We’ll tell you the best time to graze, when & where etc.” Where have you heard the promise of “give us your money & we’ll give it back”‘………oh yeah! Social security! How’s that working out for ya? Do you think you’ll get that money back? I doubt it. Anyway – the BLM did good for a while, but then it got really big, and really smart – like government tends to do…..,and stopped doing its job. It stopped helping the Bundys manage & improve their land. Not only that – they said Bundy’s had to get off “their” land – why? Because of a desert tortoise. What would you have done? “Here government agency – here’s some more money to help you kick me off my ranch.” Crazy right?! I need to take a sidetrack here for sake of clarification…the BLM property in the west was created to help manage & protect the land UNTIL the time when the government could dispose of it into state & then private hands – just like what happened with the Louisiana purchase. The founding fathers never intended the federal government to “own” anything. It was not designed to handle for profit enterprises. 
So here Cliven was faced with a decision to make. Does he simply roll over & die, all of the other ranchers in the area had, does he keep paying the unconstitutional agency that is intent on running him off the land his family has run for generations or is there an option C? He took option C! Cliven told the BLM he was here to stay & started sending his grazing fees to Nevada/Clark County because really that’s who should be getting it: until the land can be returned to private hands then the states should have control. Well Nevada and his county didn’t know what to do with his money, I think they sent it back (not sure on this). But either way – like I said…..it’s not as simple as Bundys are breaking the law because they stopped paying their grazing fees. Pretty sure Cliven would be glad to pay them – he just wants to pay them to the proper person. 
Oh & for the record – this whole fight is not personally directed at BLM employees themselves. I have many friends & even some family that works for/with the BLM & they are great men and they are great at their jobs. This is about principle. It is not in anyway personal attacks geared towards them. 

April 15 Update: What is the Bureau of Land Management and who runs it?  Watch:

Ann-Marie Murrell

Ann-Marie Murrell is one of the creators of PolitiChicks and co-owns the site with Morgan Brittany. Ann-Marie is co-author of two bestselling books, “What Women (Really) Want” and "PolitiChicks: A Clarion Call to Political Activism". She has appeared on dozens of television shows including Fox & Friends, CNN, Hannity, the Dr. Phil Show, Huckabee, Lou Dobbs, C-SPAN, One America News, Stuart Varney & Company, Newsmax, MSNBC, and more. In addition to PolitiChicks, Ann-Marie has written for multiple other news sites. You can find Ann-Marie Murrell on Facebook and Twitter: @PolitichickAM E-mail: [email protected]

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